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Work & Giftedness






Systematic Literature Review: Professional Situation of Gifted Adults. 2022. This is a meta-analysis of studies that looked at gifted adults and work. The abstract reads, "A person's intelligence level positively influences his or her professional success. Gifted and highly intelligent individuals should therefore be successful in their careers. However, previous findings on the occupational situation of gifted adults are mainly known from popular scientific sources in the fields of coaching and self-help groups and confirm prevailing stereotypes that gifted people have difficulties at work. Reliable studies are scarce. This systematic literature review examines 40 studies with a total of 22 job-related variables. Results are shown in general for (a) the employment situation and more specific for the occupational aspects (b) career, (c) personality and behavior, (d) satisfaction, (e) organization, and (f) influence of giftedness on the profession. Moreover, possible differences between female and male gifted individuals and gifted and non-gifted individuals are analyzed. Based on these findings, implications for practice as well as further research are discussed."

Choices gifted women made in education, personal life, and career: a qualitative study in the Netherlands. 2022. The abstract: "From a developmental perspective, gifted girls could benefit from the life experience shared by gifted women about what influenced them to make life choices. This study focuses on Dutch gifted women to explore what were facilitating or hindering factors in making those decisions in education, personal life, and career. Interviews with 10 participants, from ages 18 to 62, provided in-depth descriptions of participants’ personal experiences. They clearly stated what they wanted to achieve and how, whether it was in school, career, or in personal life. Overall, this study is in line with previous research. When making career choices, gifted women valued intrinsic motivation, differentiation, and the quality of the work. When they made choices, significant adults, a supportive partner, and active behaviours in seeking guidance were helping factors whereas the feeling of being different, lack of suitable education, and others’ judgment were hindering factors. Some implications are also given."

How can wellbeing at work and sustainable employability of gifted workers be enhanced? A qualitative study from a capability approach perspective. 2021.  Researchers looked at a sample of individuals with IQ above 98th percentile.  They found that participants valued the opportunity to learn, to use their knowledge and skills, and  had high ethical standards. They also reported enjoying colleagues as sparring partners but had an aversion to small talk.

The relationship between chronotype and intelligence: the importance of work timing. 2020. Study found that there was no difference in chronotype between Mensa members and matched controls. Mensa members who had later sleep timing was due to later work start times and not physiological differences. The researchers hypothesize that later working times and associated lower social jetlag may be one of the reasons that those with higher IQ are associated with lower morbidity and mortality. 

Brilliant: But What For? Meaning and Subjective Well-Being in the Lives of Intellectually Gifted and Academically High-Achieving Adults. 2017. Abstract: "Two aspects of giftedness were taken into account: intellectual giftedness, and academically high achievement. Representatives of both groups were compared with each other and a control group with regard to meaningfulness and subjective well-being, respectively. Furthermore, predictors for both facets of well-being were examined. The sample consisted of 198 Intellectually Gifted, 141 academically High Achievers, and 136 control subjects. Results: High Achievers showed degrees of meaningfulness and subjective well-being that were comparable to those of the control group. The Intellectually Gifted, however, reported significantly lower values in both facets of well-being. Results of hierarchical multiple regressions indicated that Intellectually Gifted and High Achievers follow a different path towards meaningfulness and subjective well-being. Among the Intellectually Gifted, generativity is the strongest predictor for meaningfulness, whereas for the High Achievers, meaningful work is most central to their meaningfulness. As regards subjective well-being, self-compassion was established as the strongest predictor for the Intellectually Gifted, whereas development was the most important predictor for the High Achievers."​

The Strengths, Needs and Vulnerabilities of Gifted Employees. 2016. Abstract: "The abilities of gifted employees are extremely valuable in a knowledge based economy. However, research on the functioning of gifted adults in the workplace is relatively scarce. In this study we focus on the strengths and needs of gifted employees and investigate how well these fit with their current job. We also explore which barriers may hinder gifted adults at work. The results are based on two online surveys (N = 48 and 35 respondents respectively) and biographical data. This study shows that gifted employees stand out because of their high cognitive abilities, strong willpower and creative drive. They are eager to solve complex problems and would like to allocate nearly 85% of their time to non-routine tasks. However, in reality many feel bored and experience a big gap between their intrinsic capabilities and the current requirements of their job (~ 80%). Unsuitable job contexts may lead to the desire to change jobs (~ 70%) and bore outs (~ 50%). On the other hand, gifted workers are also prone to workaholic behavior and burn-outs (1/3 respondents), because of the very high standards they set for themselves (and others). They may also suffer from emotional distress because of the ‘intellectual disconnect’ they experience with colleagues." 

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